Five ways to optimize your PR microsite to drive business results

Five ways to optimize your PR microsite to drive business results

You’ve already been charged with driving more traffic to your client’s website, and now they’re flipping the script on you by creating a microsite that they want you to promote too.

Sounds familiar, right?

Creating microsites—branded content sites that live outside of the primary company home page and/or brand URL—is all the rage right now, especially for consumer brands rich in digital photo and video content.

These websites, often created for a seasonal or specific marketing campaign, can be a double-edged sword: you want an initiative to have its own home on the Internet, but you also want it to be fully integrated into your existing marketing plan, lest you end up cannibalizing your own traffic.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are working with a brand with plans to create a microsite for an upcoming sweepstakes or contest, seasonal campaign, special offer, sale or limited time promotion, follow these five steps to ride the wave of microsite success.

1. Register a unique and memorable domain name

The first thing you need to do to build a microsite is to create a place for it to live online. You wouldn’t build a house before you chose its plot of land, would you? So grab your domain before you draw up the blueprints.

Registering a domain name is easy: Simply go to to search for and claim your domain. Then log into your domain name retailer of choice—, and are a few choices—and buy the name you want.

The good news is there is a tremendous amount of variety and choice these days, with more than 1,000 new “not-com” options available to website owners in any industry from the highly specific such as “dot-wine” (.wine) and “dot-dog” (.dog) to the more broad “dot-photos” (.photos) and “dot-marketing” (.marketing).

These extensions let internet users navigate to individual pages and campaigns using a single URL—no complicated domain names with hyphens and backslashes. These are names that are simple, flexible, and look great on screens of any size, business cards, marketing materials, and more.

Businesses, brands, and individuals have registered more than 25 million not-com domain names during the past two years—that’s about 10,000 per day or one every 10 seconds.

Some examples:

  • The elite training facility in South Florida that Under Armour sponsors has its own microsite at:

  • Pedigree and Cesar’s dog food houses their collaborative splash page at:

  • Vidal Sassoon’s charitable site—run by his daughter Eden—is

  • Symantec uses as a re-direct to a page that encourages businesses to develop cybersecurity skills among their employees.

One of the biggest questions people have been asking about new domains is, “Will a new domain help or hurt my SEO?”

In a recent FAQ post, Google addressed some of these questions and confirmed that “new domain name endings are not treated any differently than traditional domain name endings like .com or .org.”

Even with a keyword-rich domain name that tells the world what your website is all about, you’ll want to put some traditional SEO practices into play—more on that later.

2. Build your microsite with responsive design

With so many people visiting websites from their mobile phones these days—in 2015, Google said more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan—make sure your microsite looks great on your desktop and on your mobile phone or tablet. Using responsive design means you only need to have one website which is coded to adapt to all screens, of any device size.

This is especially important if your microsite is full of dynamic content that calls for user engagement, such as shoppable video or a sweepstakes that asks entrants to fill out a form to vote.  You want your website to provide a rich and dynamic experience for visitors to keep them coming back.

3. Create engaging content— again and again!

There is a great case to be made that content is the single most important thing that drives people to your website.

This is why it’s important to create content that is about your customer and their needs, not your brand.  Company websites often need to be focused around their service or product, but your microsite should be educational, informational, and entertaining first and self-promotional last.

No matter the topic of your microsite, it should always, always add value to your intended reader, so think about your buyer persona. What is your ideal customer searching for and why will they be visiting this site?

Instead of cranking out material simply because you think you need the content, focus on what kind of questions you want your website to answer and create content that answers them. The best content provides value first, and promotes your company, product or service later. In short, more subtle is better.

4. Think about what drives SEO

Yes, yes, we all know content is king—and content is very important—but there are lots of other things you can do to get that search engine love. Identify the "keywords" that users are likely to enter into a search engine. Include those keywords in your URL, headlines and other areas of the site. Bonus points if you can snag a keyword-rich domain name, too!

You’ll also want to take into consideration things like site load time, a strong content marketing strategy to encourage industry influencers to link back to you, and of course, patience! Good SEO practices don’t work miracles overnight, but they can take some time and resources to build upon.

5. Work your social networks

Once you’ve built your phenomenal microsite, it’s time to share it with the world.

Leveraging your existing social networks, especially if your brand already has a large following, is a great way to quickly spread the word about your new site. Combined with a creative domain name and engaging content, social amplification can help create buzz that will spread quickly—giving you valuable word of mouth publicity for your campaign or promotion.

Maris Callahan is the director of public relations for Donuts Inc. and, where she spends her days doing media relations, content marketing, and social media. She lives in Chicago with Brad, her significant other, and their chihuahua Henry, her other significant other.

Photo via Pixabay

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